Blu-Ray Review: The Horse Whisperer

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Robert Redford’s 1998 epic The Horse Whisperer comes to Blu-Ray with minimal extras, but a gorgeous transfer of what was already a beautiful film.  Running almost three hours long, the film opens with a terrifying accident on horseback that leads to the traumatization of a horse named Pilgrim and it’s teenage owner, Grace.  Grace’s mother Annie, played to perfection by Kristin Scott Thomas, decides to take Grace and Pilgrim to Montana to see a horse whisperer named Tom Booker, played by Redford himself.  As Redford exclaims, he actually heals “horses with people problems,” and through the course of the film, repairs this broken family.

This is a stunning and epic film.  Featuring beautiful cinematography, Redford turns Montanta into his canvass, showcasing the breathtaking vistas the state has to offer.  While the film could have been trimmed significantly by holding back on some of the scenery, it’s worth the extra running time.

Of course, as the film progresses, a relationship develops between Annie and Booker, and while it was sappy to an extent, I found myself pulled into the relationship and genuinely invested in the way it played out.  This is in large part to the performances.  The acting is always believable, and there is definite chemistry between these two performers.  Also standing out is Scarlett Johansson as Grace, in a believably nuanced performance.  She had done a few films before this (North, Just Cause, etc.), but this is the first one that really showcased the promising future ahead for her.  This is a tough role for a teenage girl, and she pulls it off admirably.

This is a film that deserves a better release than it got.  The extras are very brief, including a teaser/trailer, three production featurettes that last about 90 seconds each, and a music video.  I’ve mentioned in other reviews that it has to be hard for the studios to find material to include in new Blu-Ray releases for older films, but a film like this practically demands greater analysis of it’s creation.  Regardless, this is still a great movie, and one that would be a terrific addition to any collection.

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